Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 Internet speed test! ×

Comment Re:Why do we need this? (Score 1) 143

[1] Create and collect assignments: Classroom weaves together Google Docs, Drive and Gmail to help teachers create and collect assignments paperlessly.

To "create assignments", I make a pdf in my favorite pdf-maker, then post it on the course website (a plain HTML page with links), then tell the students about it. To "collect assignments", I tell the students to email them to the course submission email -- shared between the lead instructor and the grader, if there is one.

They can quickly see who has or hasn't completed the work, and provide direct, real-time feedback to individual students.

I don't have the time to play policeman ("I see little Susie hasn't even started coding yet and the homework's due tomorrow"); if Susie wants my help she has my email.

[2] Improve class communications: Teachers can make announcements, ask questions and comment with students in real time—improving communication inside and outside of class.

I can best "improve class communications" by talking to the damn students. If they want to talk to me and I'm around, there's email or coming by my office; if I don't respond to either, then chances are I won't be reachable by google widget, either.

[3] Stay organized: Classroom automatically creates Drive folders for each assignment and for each student. Students can easily see what's due on their Assignments page.'

They can easily see what's due by visiting the course website and seeing "Homework 4 (link) -- due Monday, April 14". Sorting things by assignment and by student is as simple as asking them to include their name and the assignment number in their submission, and running a perl script. For less technically inclined teachers, use whatever file-sifting features your OS of choice has.

I've seen highly-technologized courses run way off the rails, because there's a delusion that fancy computerization can take the place of talking to the students. It can't. The only instructional technology I really have a need for is:

1) The computers that we actually use (I teach computational physics) 2) A projector, so I can show them examples 3) A website, where they can download shit (pdf's of assignments and notes) and see what's due 4) Email

I so agree and you have my mod points. The only, and I mean only feature I actually like about these products is that I can see the grade distribution (as a student). For some reason I always like to see what the highest and lowest scores are, also, how much I beat the average by. The only blackboard one needs is an actual blackboard.

Comment Structure != Story (Score 2) 384

Let's everybody calm down. Nearly all drama follows a very small set of dramatic structures. Just like there are one act plays, movies tend to follow a three act structure. That's all this book is.

Just because there is a structure does not mean it's all derivative. The idea is that the story lives on top of the structure. It isn't the structure itself. I see people citing movies like "Back to the Future" as examples that do not follow this structure. It does. Almost everything does. I took classes at one of these types of places for about two years. One thing we used to do was analyze films and try to find their structure. Amazingly, even the most seemingly unstructured movies followed the three act structure. There are exceptions, but they are rare. One notable exception might be the movie "I am curious yellow." But it's also highly experimental.

Or to put it another way: structure is the bones, story is the skin.

Submission + - Florida GoogleX Team Offers to Send Your DNA to the Moon... For a Price (

Udigs writes: You might have heard of the Google LunarX Prize. It’s a competition where private, often non-profit organizations race to build a vehicle capable of completing a short mission on the moon. But one of the problems facing these private teams is the issue of raising money to make the trip. However, one Florida team is taking an interesting approach: they are offering to send your DNA to the moon for a price. For the inclined, they've started a kickstarter page, here. Prometheus anyone?

Comment Re:Unemployed Veteran here. (Score 1) 309

Yeah, fuck off to YOU dude. Things aren't so black and white and you need to learn to have a little compassion for your fellow man. You SHOULD be mad, but you are mad at the wrong people. Be mad at the people who ordered these soldiers here. Be mad at the people who use our military as an instrument of not defense but for maintaining control of this capitalist hellhole machine we all live in.

Comment Re:Unemployed Veteran here. (Score 1) 309

I see that no one replied to your comment but I wanted you to know that I read your whole comment and, for whatever it's worth, I wish you the best. I'm sorry that shit is fucked up for you, I really am. It makes me want to puke when I see those "support the troops" stickers -- support them until they get home, that is it seems. For seriously, hang in there. Take whatever you have and get in your car and move to the nearest big city and start over. Use your GI bill to get into the medical field. There will be more opportunities there.

Submission + - Who Moved My UI? Or: When is it Okay to Change Som (

Udigs writes: Nothing makes my nerd heart beat harder than good interface design. And one of the most interesting aspects about interface design is the issue of reinventing or improving well-established UI elements and conventions.

But while everyone agrees that designs can always be improved it’s not always clear what that means and more importantly, if it’s even possible.

I’ve overheard many heated arguments in which someone eventually says something like: “Everyone expects x to work like y, so you can’t change it!!” (This is usually the deathblow to the other person. They walk away, tail between legs, to go silently Facebook-stalk their ex-girlfriend.)

And you know what, this sort of system seems to work. Most of the time. But that’s only because most of the time we come up with terrible, terrible ideas. But sometimes new controls and ways of doing things do need to get designed. How to settle this age-old argument?

Comment Humans Weren't Meant to Live this Way (Score 1) 118

Seriously. However cool it may be, humans weren't meant to live this way... All packed on top of each other, so tightly that moving around one another is no longer possible to do with just a human brain... It's just badness, all the way down. In nature, overpopulation is naturally corrected for. Humans, ever so smart, are always finding ways to stick yet another finger in the proverbial dam. It's a beautiful piece of art in that it is totally, and utterly terrifying.

Comment Re:some records are best kept offline too (Score 1) 153

Books are totally awesome but have one fatal design flaw: they tend to burn. Burning of the library of alexandria anyone?

Let's face it. If the shit goes down we're f*cked either way. As someone else pointed out -- something like a book is useless when you're freezing your ass off. And it will most likely end up being used to start fires. Why not enjoy the life we have?

Slashdot Top Deals

Consultants are mystical people who ask a company for a number and then give it back to them.